Monday 19 February 2018

Watchdog slaps €30k fines on lobbyists

 

A probe by the public spending watchdog, also reveals a fundamental miscalculation in how absences have been recorded. (Stock image)
A probe by the public spending watchdog, also reveals a fundamental miscalculation in how absences have been recorded. (Stock image)

Simon Rowe

More than 150 lobbyists have been fined by Ireland's ethics watchdog for breaching new lobbying regulations.

Fines totalling €30,000 have been levied on lobbyists for late returns since the beginning of this year and another 20 registered lobbyists are being investigated for failing to submit any returns since January 21 - the first deadline when returns had to be submitted under the new Regulation of Lobbying Act.

A €200 fixed-payment notice was served on a total of 152 registered lobbyists.

The Act precludes the naming of lobbyists who have been levied with fines.

There have been two return deadlines since the commencement of the Act's enforcement provisions."Despite a number of reminders prior to deadlines, we have noted a number of registrants continue to submit their returns late," said Sherry Perreault, head of lobbying regulation at the Standards in Public Office Commission.

"The Commission has modified its reminders to highlight more prominently the consequences of non-compliance.

"In addition to these enforcement activities, the Commission has a role in investigating and prosecuting non-registered lobbying. I cannot comment on the Commission's activities in this regard, other than to say that the Commission follows up wherever it has reason to believe that unregistered lobbying may have occurred, and will take enforcement action as needed," she said.

Breaches include failing to register, failing to submit a return by the relevant deadline, and knowingly providing the Commission with false or misleading information.

About 1,600 lobbyists have registered, with 14,000 returns submitted to date.

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